Different Party, Different Tactic
FS: Who are political donors? Can you paint a picture of the typical political supporter?
HM: They tend to be similar to charitable donors in that they are predominantly older and retired. Internet donors are younger but not as much as you might think. I would guess that the median age of all political direct-mail donors would be between 65 and 70 — which is the case for many charities, as well. For phone donors and Internet donors, that figure would probably be in the high 50s.
The thing that distinguishes political donors is, not surprisingly, ideology. Republican donors tend to be the most conservative Americans. Democratic donors tend to be the most liberal Americans. One reason that Republicans have historically raised more money from direct response is not that there are more Republicans than Democrats, but that there are 50 percent more
conservatives than liberals.
FS: Where do you find people who are likely to give to your campaign?
HM: The primary source of names on both sides is donors to conservative and liberal causes. These lists are generally available on a rental or exchange basis. During presidential elections and when the mail is performing especially well, candidates and parties can also successfully solicit selected portions of voter lists.
FS: Direct-mail/e-mail solicitation for campaign financial support obviously works best for people who already are in your corner, but how likely is it to work with the undecided crowd or even non-supporters?
HM: Almost no undecided voters give. A fundraising letter might inform someone about a candidate, but it’s unlikely to move them all the way from neutral to actually giving a donation. Most givers already support the candidate or the party. Most are probably just waiting to be asked.
FS: Kiss of death … what is it for this audience?
HM: Waffling on issues or being too far ahead in the polls. High-dollar donors flock to the expected winner. Direct-mail donors give to candidates they believe need the money.